Sustainable Horse Ownership

Many of us love nature as well as our horses, but the two can sometimes be difficult to reconcile. We all want to preserve the landscape and its inhabitants for future generations (both human and equine). As a result, we’ve compiled a list of things you can put in place to ensure your equine ownership is more earth-friendly.

While most of us are trying to do our best anyway, don’t be disheartened at the extensive range we’ve listed. We ourselves haven’t got the economical resources to implement all of these suggestions, but we are trying to be greener. You can do your bit for Australia’s beautiful environment by simply starting to adopt even a couple of these measures.

Go Green…

… in the feed shed

Try and buy feed in bulk. This saves on transport costs, packaging, etc.

Dung beetles are fantastic little critters which greatly aid our paddocks, but we often kill them when we use mectin wormers on our horses. While most of us can’t forgo wormers that do contain mectin all of the time, we may be able to rotate our wormers sporadically to give dung beetles a better chance. Read more on this here.

Give organic feeds a try (check with your vet first). A couple of companies are now selling them in oz, such as Kialla Foods, and Maraseeds.

If you’re looking to treat your equine for his excellent behavior, organic treats are a great idea! Sassy Treats does a range, but we’re sure that there’ll be others.

… in the paddock

Use rainwater tanks to supply water troughs and to use in pasture management

Practice effective pasture management. By resting and regenerating areas of your land, your are allowing it to produce more grass for your equines, even possibly reducing your feed costs.

Goats can be used in weed management, as they’re much less picky than horses. Just be aware that some weeds are still poisonous to goats, and you will have to ensure you have excellent fencing to contain them. They also make excellent companions for horses.

Re-use secondhand materials wherever possible, such as for fencing, make tire feed-bins, etc. Always ensure recycled structures are safe for your horses, making sure there are no sharp edges protruding.

Invest in solar panels to power stables and electric fencing.

Especially if you have large acreage, plant environmental buffers preferably with natives. As we are now mindful of the dangers posed by bats carrying Hendra virus, do your best to avoid planting things that do attract bats if they will be close to horses. The Queensland Horse Council have put together a fantastic fact sheet on planting safely with Hendra virus in mind. Access it here.

Where possible, avoid barbed wire. Not only can it hurt your horses, but it is also a danger to native species. If you cannot change your fencing because of financial reasons or if you are renting, consider containing your horses within portable electric fencing to keep your horses off the barbed wire.

… in the stables

Sustainable animal bedding is becoming more available in Australia, with options such as recycled cardboard (Check out Eco Bedding for more info)

For riding apparel, hunt bargains in op shops. You could even host a stable-swap meet with your equine community, as something you no longer have use for may be the very thing a friend was in need of (and vice versa). Take care of your riding boots with natural products, or alternatively use olive oil to keep them at their best. Re-soling your boots is a much better option for the environment than throwing them away.

Baling twine is handy for many things, we’re sure you’ve all used it at some point! If you’re crafty and want to fill in some time, you could make a baling twine hay bag! Instructions can be found here.

Most horse owners have an impressive collection of beloved horse shoes. Why not put them to good use? They are the perfect shape for hooks (rustic coat hangers anyone?), and bearing in mind their symbolism as a good luck charm, they make excellent paper weights. We’re sure you’ll find many more uses on the internet.

… out on the road

When riding through bush land and state parks, do your best to be quiet so as not to disturb native wildlife. Also ensure you stay on designated paths to prevent damaging vegetation.

Consider ‘float-pulling’ with like-minded equine enthusiasts to horse events. If you know someone who has a spare place on their float consider going together! Not only does this reduce carbon emissions, but it also saves you both money when you split the fuel cost, your horse will have company if it’s a nervous traveller, and you’ll only have to muck out one float at the other end together! Just be wary when floating horses together if they are strangers as horses will establish their pecking order on their first meeting. You don’t want them to be sorting out who’s boss in the float, so make sure they interact beforehand and give yourself plenty of time for loading. For more safe floating tips, click here.

… on your horse

Use natural, non-toxic treatments for ailments. Be wary that some herbal remedies are very powerful, or even toxic if used incorrectly. The most widely used medicines are often also derived from nature, so combining these with a natural remedy may also be very dangerous. As the saying goes, always check with your vet first.

Need a new horse rug? If you’re into something a bit different you may like to try hemp horse rugs. We’ve only located one supplier thus far: JKF Unique Horsewear (Fax 3289 0038, PO Box 2042 Bardon Qld).